Jeff Merkley

Border spending bill sent to Senate floor, but House may act on its version first
Measure provides slightly less than Trump administration sought, but got bipartisan support from Senate appropriators

Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., right, and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., prepare for a committee markup Wednesday of an emergency spending bill to address the influx of migrants at the southern border. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators approved $4.59 billion in emergency funding Wednesday to address the influx of migrants at the southern border, and their House counterparts said they’re prepping a similar bill to bring to the floor as soon as Tuesday.

The measure appropriators sent to the Senate floor provides slightly less than President Donald Trump’s administration had requested, but leaders of both parties said it did not include “poison pills” that could block passage.

Judge who said being transgender is a ‘delusion’ nearing confirmation
Democratic senators and LGBT advocates have voiced concerns over one of Trump’s most controversial nominees

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is seen before the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Collins announced she would oppose Matthew Kacsmaryk’s nomination because his “extreme” statements “indicate an alarming bias against the rights of LGBTQ Americans and disregard for Supreme Court precedents.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic senators and LGBT advocates want to stop the confirmation of one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees this week, but the fight underscores just how powerless they are to do so without help from Republicans.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled floor votes starting Tuesday afternoon for a slate of appointments including Matthew Kacsmaryk to be a judge for the Northern District of Texas. The Kentucky Republican has used a 53-47 majority and streamlined floor rules to quickly confirm 34 judicial nominees this year.

Trump — not lawmakers — set to be biggest challenge for new legislative affairs chief Ueland
No matter who runs Hill shop, president’s approach is ‘very unlikely to yield results,’ expert says

Wyoming Sen. Michael B. Enzi, right, introduces Eric Ueland at his confirmation hearing to be under secretary of State for management in September 2017. That nomination was later withdrawn, but Ueland will be President Donald Trump’s third legislative affairs director, starting Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eric Ueland, hand-picked by President Donald Trump to be his third legislative affairs director, has decades of experience in the D.C. “swamp” his soon-to-be boss loathes. But the former senior GOP aide will quickly learn it is the president alone who is, as one official put it Thursday, “the decider.”

Ueland has been chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and a Senate Budget Committee staff director. Experts and former officials describe him as highly qualified for the tough task of being the messenger between Trump and a Congress with a Democrat-controlled House that regularly riles up the president and a Senate where Republicans lack votes to pass most major legislation.

Democrats join Trump in whining about tariffs on wine
Feinstein, others call on administration to push for removing duties on U.S. wine

Democratic lawmakers want the Trump administration to ensure any new trade agreements with China or Japan remove tariffs on U.S. wine. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Concerns about tariffs on wine are leaving a sour taste both on Capitol Hill and in the White House.

But this wine isn’t skunked, it’s tainted by retaliatory Chinese tariffs, lawmakers say.

These Senate Democrats want to ban stock trading by members of Congress
Sens. Brown and Merkley introduce legislation last week to prohibit trading in most cases

Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., left, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, want to ban stock trading by members of Congress in most cases. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two Democratic senators want to prevent a recurrence of ethically dubious stock trades by members of Congress by banning them altogether.

Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio want to bar lawmakers and senior aides from buying and selling individual securities. The reality is that many members of the House and Senate do own and trade stock in publicly-traded companies.

Trump drags feet on climate treaty, and Republicans aren’t happy
As Kigali Amendment languishes, Sens. Kennedy, Carper point fingers at the administration

Hydrofluorocarbons — found in air conditioners — are worse for the climate than carbon dioxide. A plan to limit them has bipartisan support, but the Trump administration is standing in the way, Republican senators say. (iStock/Composite by Jason Mann)

It has the support of industry heavy-hitters, environmental advocates and a bipartisan cushion of votes in the Senate.

But the Kigali Amendment, a global treaty to limit hydrofluorocarbons — highly potent greenhouse gases found in air conditioners, refrigerators, insulation and foam — is stuck.

Hemp concerns and trade jitters top agriculture appropriations hearing
The Agriculture Department’s request includes cuts to research, rural housing and international humanitarian food programs

Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue takes his seat to testify during the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate appropriators had trade woes and the promise of industrial hemp on their minds Thursday as they sought assurances from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue of better times for farmers in their states.

Perdue testified before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on the president’s $15.7 billion request for discretionary funding for the Agriculture Department. The request is more than $4.2 billion lower than the enacted level for fiscal 2019 and includes cuts to research, rural housing, international humanitarian food programs and other areas popular with lawmakers.

‘Medicare for All’ keeps defining 2020 political landscape
Progressive health care plan could become point of contention as campaign heats up

From left, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., at an event Wednesday to introduce the “Medicare for All Act of 2019.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The “Medicare for All” bill that presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders released Wednesday is more likely to be litigated on the campaign trail than in the halls of Congress. And it highlights a rare political divide among Democrats on one of their marquee issues even as the party seeks to appear unified.

Supporters of the Vermont independent are vying with Democrats who prefer to expand and protect the 2010 health care law. Those differences have recently been overshadowed by larger fights between the two parties after the Trump administration broadened its position in a high-profile lawsuit by calling to strike down the entire 2010 law.

Bernie Sanders’ new Medicare for All bill would cover some long-term care

Renelsa Caudill, a nurse at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, is greeted by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., after speaking at an event to introduce the “Medicare for All Act of 2019,” in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., are also pictured. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday released an updated bill to implement a single-payer health insurance system, a politically divisive hallmark of his White House bid.

The unnumbered Senate bill would transition the U.S. health care system to a single-payer system over a four-year transition and eliminate nearly all premiums, co-pays and deductibles. The legislation largely mirrors Sanders’ 2017 proposal, but the new plan also would cover home and community-based long-term care services through an expanded Medicare program, according to a summary. The earlier version would have maintained those services through existing Medicaid benefits.

A pot banking bill is headed to House markup with bipartisan support
If passed, state-sanctioned marijuana growers and dispensaries would have better access to the financial system

Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., right, and Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., make their way to the Capitol before the last votes of the week in the House on Dec. 13, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the House Financial Services Committee takes up a pot banking bill with broad bipartisan support, the legal barriers preventing state-sanctioned marijuana growers and dispensaries from accessing the financial system may soon go up in smoke.

The pot banking bill is one of five scheduled for committee markup Tuesday, and with 143 co-sponsors — including 12 Republicans — it’s the one with the most support. First proposed by Colorado Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter in 2013, this version was introduced by Perlmutter and Washington Democrat Denny Heck, as well as Ohio Republicans Warren Davidson and Steve Stivers.